Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Acadiana "Program aiming at tech gap"

If you missed the story Je’Nelle Chargois and her computer rebuilding project then you need to take a look at the story in the Advocate. The project exemplifies all those grassroots, community-driven public/private ideals you hear about so often—and so seldom see in full-blown action. Here's the gist of the story; one that will hopefully drive you to read the whole thing—and maybe even contribute to the project at hand or start one yourself:

Through a partnership between community organizations and local businesses, at least 200 computers will be placed in the homes of Faulk students who wouldn’t otherwise have access to the technology outside of the classroom.

“We’re trying to close the digital divide and give them to the tools to compete,” said Je’Nelle Chargois, manager of KJCB radio and coordinator of the Heritage School of the Arts and Technology, partners in the project.

The group has worked with the school to match 137 students with computers. By next month, the group will have reached its goal of placing 200 computers, Chargois said.

The computers have been donated by area companies and, as needed, refurbished by volunteer computer technicians.

Those students who receive a computer and their parents must attend computer literacy workshops. The parents also agree to get more involved at Faulk.

There's more, of course; there's a neighborhood center involved, Vision Community Services, founded by Sessil Trepagnier, a computer analyst with Halliburton. I've worked with Je'Nelle briefly on a rebuilding project a couple of years back and can testify that she's devoted to doing this right.

If this sort of thing interests you and you think you'd like to help out or do something similar I've got a meeting you might want to attend: the League of Women Voters of Lafayette is bring together a group of folks who have previously expressed an interest in starting projects in Lafayette concerning both computer rebuilding and community computer centers. That meeting is next Monday, Jan. 25th at 5:30 at AOC (Main at Lee downtown). Both Sessil and Je'Nelle will speak as will a number of others ranging from League membe Thetis Cusimano reporting on research on current community center resources done by League members to Sona Dombourian of the Lafayette Library.

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